Driving in Italy was an experience in itself. I leave you with my own 10 tips for surviving the challenge, based on our actual experience:
1) To determine the correct speed on the highway, take the posted limit, divide by two and add to the original. Thus 100kph becomes 150, 120 becomes 180 etc. If you drive 130, stay in the slow lane
2) The centre line is for decorative purposes only
3) Motor scooters are designed to avoid traffic. There are hundreds of them, so expect them on your left, on your right and on the sidewalk if traffic is slow enough
4) In Italy, 99 out of 100 "roundabouts" have traffic going one way (counterclockwise). The other 1 will have two concentric circles of traffic. In the latter case, it is helpful to have someone in the passenger seat who can yell stop so that you avoid killing a motorcyclist coming in the opposite direction!
5) In Florence, all streets are one way and none are marked. Therefore, allow at least two hours to travel 2kms from the edge of town to the Uffizi museum at the centre.
6) An inability to read Italian will afford you access to restricted roads and pedestrian areas of town, much to the surprise of thousands of other tourists and the police. You may even find yourself on the plaza right in front of the Uffizi!
7) Be prepared to drive on the shoulder to avoid on-coming traffic in your lane around blind corners. Only there aren't many paved shoulders in Italy.
8) Highway signs will only post the name of your destination once and then will assume you know which way to go after that. In some cases they may give you clues by listing places you do not want to go.
9) Highways have many "Y" intersections and you need to know which way to go. But there is no advanced warning as to which way. Therefore be prepared to stop dead in front of the "Y" until you know where you are going and everyone has stopped honking at you.
10) At the beginning of steep one-way country roads (such as the one to our "villa"), pray that you don't meet anyone coming down the other way. If you do, be prepared to back up, while not looking down the cliff side, to the nearest pull-out, while your passenger clutches the seat in fear.
If you remember these 10 easy points, then you too can drive in Italy.
By Marcus Handman
Marcus' driving rules had me laughing out loud and remembering
how utterly mad and fun it is to drive in Italy. May I add a couple of my own?
1. In a circle, where traffic seems to speed up, the biggest vehicle gets right of way, unless you are very fiesty, then you drive like a real Italian.
2. If you ask an Italian for directions, they want to help you, even if they don't know what you've asked for or where it is. Expect to go down the road they tell you to in order to turn right and find a one way to the left. You're on your own.
3. Parking in Italy is the most sensible in the world. If there's a space, even half a space, take it and make it work. There are no such things as parking tickets in Italy. Love it!